Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Hey, guys!  Hope everyone had a good Christmas!
Ours was pretty good!  Mostly...


This was, of course, Raylan's first Christmas.  At a little over 8 months, he's a little young to understand what the holiday is all about, but the family sure got excited about having Raylan in attendance.  And you know what Raylan is not too young to appreciate?  Attention!!  He loves it!!
He loves smiles and laughs and play time.
He is also learning to love a variety of toys, and since some of those showed up this holiday season, he was excited about that.


As to the less fun part of our Christmas adventure, Raylan got sick starting Monday night the week of Christmas.  He got a fever, which the doctor determined was from another ear infection.  He got antibiotics, but they took a couple of days to work.  On Christmas Eve we found ourselves hustling across town to make it to the doctor's office (our second trip of the week) before they closed for the Christmas holiday.
We'd had grand plans to attend Christmas Eve church with my family and then host them over at our house for snacks and drinks afterward, but instead we ended up hunkered down at home by ourselves, letting Raylan rest and recover.  My family really helped us out, though.  Thanks to Jamie and Ryan for taking over the Christmas Eve hosting duties at the last minute, and thanks to my dad and Dick (Jamie's dad) for bringing us a couple of plates of food over at our house on Christmas Eve.
Interesting to note that somewhere in there Raylan learned to crawl on all fours instead of just dragging himself around the house.  Sickness or not, he suddenly picked up a lot of speed...




Christmas Day went a little better.  Raylan's fever had dropped, and he was in a much better mood.
We got up and had a nice time eating breakfast and opening some presents at our house before heading over to my folks' place in the afternoon. 




(This is amazing!!  We should do this every day!)


My Mom and Dad did a really nice job of hosting a very nice Christmas Day get together.  They made a dinner with both turkey (for sure) and prime rib (I think), and lots of other food and goodies.
We opened more presents, and we had a good time hanging out and catching up with people.  In attendance were Mom, Dad, Ryan, Jamie, Dick, Susan, Ciara, Uncle Donald, and family friend, Juan Diaz.  Amy and I, grateful to be out of our own house after being a little housebound with a sick kiddo all week, hung out a little while after everyone else had left just to quietly decompress and talk with Mom and Dad (Raylan was asleep by that point).

(Dad, I still live with you and Mom, though, right?)

(official "Raylan's first Christmas" family photo)

(a mysterious, beautiful woman in Christmas socks,
entertaining some baby) 

(whole lotta Christmas)

(Susan shows Raylan how to open your mouth really wide)

(Raylan gets some aunt and uncle time)

(Back Row:  Me and Ryan
Middle Row:  Dad, Mom, Amy with Raylan, Ciara, and Susan
Front Row: Dick and Uncle Donald
Picture taken by Juan Diaz)

On the Saturday after Christmas Mom and Dad were good enough to come down to our house in the afternoon for a little while and watch Raylan.  Amy and I went to the gym, ran to Target to do a few errands, and ate some Thai food.  It was nice to get out and about a bit.  We really appreciated the time off.
On Sunday I went to the grocery store and ran a couple of errands.  In the evening we had Leslie (one of the women who works at Raylan's daycare) come babysit, and we went to see the new Star Wars movie (i.e., Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens).  I really enjoyed the movie.  Amy less so.
Her main complaint, which has validity, was that there were too many plotlines and scenes in the movie that were extremely derivative of episodes 4 through 6 (spoilers-the orphan in a desert, the hunted droid carrying crucial data, the crazy bar scene, the father confronting his son on a catwalk bridge, the threat and vulnerability of a new Death Star, etc. End spoilers).
Personally, although I could see her point, I saw a lot of the things that she saw as repetitive as expanding on themes from those prior movies.  Undoubtedly, though, Abrams cashed in quite a few nostalgia chips to make this film.  In order to have successful follow up movies, he's going to have to find a way to wander into more dangerous territory- more creative and farther afield of the earlier films.
All in all, though, I thought the characters and dialogue were so much better than in episodes 1 through 3 that I could pretty much overlook the repetition of plot points.  The prequels, after all, had a markedly different plot structure than the original movies- and they sucked.
This movie put some joy and some fun back into Star Wars, and I think that's what everyone was desperate for.  I really enjoyed it.








(Amy with the Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader from Aliens
in the lobby of the Slaughter Lane Alamo Drafthouse)
And that was pretty much our Christmas holiday.
Hope everyone had a nice one!
Cheers!  Be safe out there as we approach New Year's!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Update

So we're in full speed holiday mode now, for sure!    On Tuesday night Amy and I joined Jamie for Santaland Diaries at Zach Theatre.  (Ryan got sick and bailed).  Mom and Dad were kind enough to get us the tickets.  It was a lot of fun!  Amy and I had seen it a few years back when Amy's folks were in town, but almost half of the material was new, and the second portion of the performance, based on the David Sedaris essay, is pretty much a classic.  The whole thing was very funny and entertaining.  I recommend it.

Getting in the mood before my office
Christmas party

Raylan and Will making "music" at daycare



Thursday night was my office Christmas party.  It was at El Mercado this year (second year in a row).  It was pretty fun!  They reserved the whole restaurant for us, and lots of people came out.  I had a good time catching up with folks (the defense attorneys and judges were there, too).  It's good to go to some of these things.  When you argue with people so much for a living, it's good to just relax and remind yourself that you're all, ultimately, in it together.  Amy skipped the party to Raylan sit, but I made it home in time to feed him a bottle before I went to bed.
Friday night we ordered some Thai food.
Saturday mostly involved errands and chores.
Saturday night we were supposed to all go over to Ryan and Jamie's for our traditional Steans family Italian Christmas dinner.  We've been doing this for the last few years- getting together to celebrate Christmas with a small, family dinner before Christmas arrives.  This year we had it at Ryan and Jamie's house (as opposed to a restaurant) so that we could bring Raylan and celebrate with the entire family.  Unfortunately, Raylan pretty much refused to sleep all day, so he was super tired and cranky.  Long story short, Amy ended up staying home with Raylan so he could get some sleep while I went to dinner with the family (while bringing the salad that amy had made and some bread).
Ryan and Jamie put on a really nice dinner!  They had appetizers and wine, and Jamie made a really good lasagna.  They set a nice table, and even had some good Christmas music playing.  It made for a very nice evening.  I was really bummed that Amy and Raylan didn't make it because it was a really good time.  

(Most people try to lure Santa Claus to their house.
Ryan's hoping for someone with different super powers)

Sunday morning we got up and went and had breakfast at Central Market.  We took some oatmeal with us for Raylan, so he could sit at the table and dine with us.  He made for a decent breakfast companion, so long as we could steer him away from awkward conversations about politics.

(Rylan talks about the difficulty of building a moderate consensus
in a radically polarized political climate)

Mostly Sunday we hung out and took care of errands and chores.  Sunday night Amy made some really good shrimp creole.  
Today (Monday) Raylan's daycare was closed, so I took the day off to hang out with him.  We ran a few errands together, fighting out way through the Christmas shopping crowds as a team.

(Rylan helps me chart a course through the holiday
badlands of the shopping center parking lot)

("C'mon, Dad!  You can get this thing going faster!!")

And that's pretty much been it.
Hope everyone is finding a little happiness in their days amidst the craziness of the holiday preparations.
Take care of each other!

Peace.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Update

Hey! How is everyone? Feeling merry yet?


Well, we've been good, but pretty busy.
On Thursday of this week, we had the Christmas party for Amy's office.  It was nice.  It was at Emily and Joe's restaurant (i.e., Russells Bistro).  Nice food and drink, and I got a chance to chat with some of the nice folks from Amy's office that I don't see all that often.


(Amy wore her cat sweater, I think for the ugly sweater contest, but then
she decided it was too hot, and took it off before the actual judging)

(Jolly ol' Saint Nick made an appearance!)

So that was on Thursday night.  Mom and Dad kept Raylan that night so we wouldn't have to worry about him being up past his bed time while we were at the party.  Thanks, Admiral and Karebear!
Friday night I don't think we got up to very much.  I can't really remember, honestly.
On Saturday I went grocery shopping, and we did chores, and we took turns running to the gym.
Saturday evening we went over to Mandy's house for a sort of potluck dinner (although Mandy did most of the cooking).  Kim, Sigmund, Miles, Andy, Rami, Wilson, Mandy, Kellie, Marigold, Josephine, and our family were in attendance.  It was fun to hang out and catch up and watch the kiddos play.  Raylan seemed to really enjoy watching the other kids.  Also, Mandy made some tasty chicken tacos!  It's a little surreal (and cool) to see all of these kids hanging out together, knowing that the parents have been hanging out together for many years...
So that was Saturday.
On Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane.  It was nice to get up and get out for breakfast.  We ran a couple of errands before heading home.
We took care of some chores on Sunday.  Laundry.  Raylan wrangling.  Amy made some treats for a holiday cookie party at her office and worked on a project for one of her nephews (it's a Christmas surprise, so I won't give it away).  We took turns exercising.
In the evening I went to band practice.  It was good to see the guys and play some tunes.


("I'm MOBILE now!!!")





("Because I'm comfortable here.  That's why."

("Oh my God!  Did you guys forget to knock this cup tower over,
or what?!")

("Dad, this thing makes the inside of
my head light up...")



("That's it...  Just take one step
closer, Mom....")
And that was the weekend. I'm not sure where it went, really, but it seemed to go by fast without much down time.
It feels like we're just racing through the holiday season.
I hope everyone is doing well.


Peace.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Update

So, it wasn't the best weekend ever.  Not the worst, mind you, but I got a cold starting g on Friday night, and by Saturday I had one of the worst headaches I've had in my life.  It.  Wouldn't.  Go.  Away.  Anyway, I'm not really used to serious headaches (God help those people who live with regular migraines), so I spent a lot of Saturday sleeping and whimpering (because I'm tough like that).  I was supposed to go to a graduation dinner for our friend, Kit (congratulations, Kit!!), but I ended up staying home sick while Amy went on her own.    Sounds like she had a really good time.  Mom and Dad had already arranged to take Raylan for the night so we could go to the graduation dinner, so I was able to get some rest.  Thanks to them!

Anyway, consequently, I don't have a lot to report from this weekend.  I ended up sleeping through UT's final game of the year, in which they apparently managed to defeat the once-mighty Baylor (I know they've had some quarterback injuries- but I still thought they'd beat us).


(Raylan teaching Mom to read on Thursday morning.
Raylan likes when Grandma hangs out with him for
the day.)

Amy looking beautiful for the dinner I didn't make it to

(Here I'm trying to feed Raylan food, but he
prefers his teething toy)
And finally, a video from Friday night that Raylan fans might enjoy (but which his enemies will hate).  It's a little repetitive, so we'll forgive you if you don't watch all of it.  ;-)



That's about it.  I'm hopefully on the mend.  Raylan's got a cold, too, so we're working through things together.

Peace.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving

Howdy! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!  Ours was nice.  We had some good family time, got to see some family friends, and had a really nice dinner out in Steiner Ranch at Mom and Dad's house.  My only gripe was that the weather was sort of dreary (cold and wet), but we stayed pretty busy with inside activities and some shopping.
We got to spend a lot of time with Raylan.  It was nice.  He's a lot of fun right now-  very curious, and bursting with personality.









("What does this button do?")



(Pies.  So many delightful pies.)
(post dinner UT-Texas Tech viewing)
(Jamie talks with Amy, while the non-football crowd chats in the nook)
(more football)


Feeling maybe a little bit of cabin fever following Thanksgiving, we loaded Raylan into the car and headed for Barton Creek Mall on Black Friday to walk around, stretch our legs (it was cold and rainy outside), and do some shopping.  The mall, predictably, was a little crazy, but it was fun.  Raylan seemed to enjoy watching all of the activity.  He even got to see Santa Claus from afar, but didn't get his picture took with the jolly old elf because Raylan was in sweatpants, and they were deemed to be inappropriate for his first Santa photo shoot.



("Mom, let me hold that for you while Dad takes your
picture...")

("I never get tired of this story, Dad.  I just love the
characters and the plot!")

(on to the next thing)


Anyway, we have had so much to be thankful for this year. I have so much to be thankful for.  I'm thankful for Amy and Raylan.  I'm thankful for Dad and Mom and Ryan and Jamie.  I'm thankful for our home and my job and for Cassidy.  I'm thankful to have friends to make music with.  I'm thankful for all of the friends in our life.  We have a lot of people around us who just make life better.  It's a lot easier to deal with all of the craziness, stress, and general absurdity of life when you have people to laugh with.
It was a good Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Update

Hello! Hope everyone had a good weekend.  Ours was low key, and pretty good.
Raylan turned 7 months old on Friday!  I can't believe it.  The passage of time has been a strange sensation since Raylan was born.  In some ways it feels like he's been around for a lot longer than 7 months.  It seems hard to believe that we've only had the little guy in our life for just over a half year.  On the other hand, it seems impossible how much he's already grown and changed and developed.  He's very vocal now and extremely alert.  He says things like , "Mumma... Mumma..." (maybe in relation to Amy, or maybe just because it's fun to say, and we keep repeating it to him- probably a combination of both).  He really enjoys having books read to him.  He looks at the pictures, grabs at the pages, and gets excited (arms flapping and bouncing) for certain books. He also just started to do some forward scooting this weekend.  He's been able to turn and roll for a while now, but this weekend he started doing a sort of soldier crawl where he pulls himself forward with his arms.  We have some babyproofing in our near future...
Anyway, in short, by now it seems sort of hard to imagine life without Raylan, but it also seems like he's growing up in a flash.
He's an amazing little kid.  We love him.  He loves us.


So we took some 7 month shots this weekend.













(In the middle of my room, surrounded by my
stuff, and sitting on Mom.  Everything is as
it should be.)
(Yeah, this has been great, Dad, but I'm ready to
get back to my toys now.)


On Friday night I think we sort of just hung out.  Amy made a good vegetarian dinner that had orzo and assorted veggies in it.  I enjoyed it.
I think on Friday night we also watched the first episode of The Man in the High Castle, streaming it from Amazon Prime. 

The Man in the High Castle series is loosely based on the Philip K. Dick book of the same name, which I had just finished reading last week.  The show takes place in the early 1960s, and it's an alternate history fiction in which the Nazis have won World War II and divided the United States into both Japanese (in the West) and German (East) territories. 
The novel is a little stranger than the show, with most of the characters sort of accepting the current, depressing state of their country and the world as more or less immutable fact.  they sort of make the best of things and do the best that they can in living out their lives.  Events ultimately take place in the book which offer the promise of potential change, but this possibility is only a sort of glimmer of potential hope.
The series, on the other hand, seems to suppose the fact that an Axis occupation of the United States would be met with an underground, armed resistance from the get-go.  To be sure, the television series is dark in its depiction of occupied, Axis North America, but I actually found the book a little more chilling in its portrayal of a world in which Americans have become resigned to living under a government which oppresses freedom, regularly engages in genocide, and allows for the utilization of slaves.  The instinctive belief that Americans would, if faced with Axis occupation, undoubtedly leap into action despite great personal risk creates a definite sense of drama and danger, but it's actually a much more optimistic viewpoint than the more staid depiction of more humdrum America where people would rather put up with tyrannical, insane rulers so long as, in their personal lives, they are mostly allowed to go on with the ins and outs of their regular day-to-day routine.  The differences between the show and the book are interesting, and although they might initially seem subtle, I think they ultimately present very different views of American nature.  The show presumes that we won't tolerate injustice and will fight for liberty at any cost.  The book assumes that, once subjugated and acclimated to a new system, Americans will tolerate terrible injustices, at least insofar as they aren't suffering too terribly on a personal level.
Anyway, we're only a couple of episodes into the series, but I'm liking it.

On Saturday we got up really early and went to breakfast with Raylan.  I'm here to report that if you want a good table at Kerbey Lane on a weekend, getting there at 7:00 a.m. will really cut down on your wait time.
We had a nice breakfast, and then I did some grocery shopping.  During the morning, a cold front rolled in and the weather cooled off.  The sun came out, and it was breezy.  We went for some walks, and I took Raylan with me to Target while Amy went to the gym.  I went to the gym after I got back.
Saturday night Amy made tortilla soup and we watched another episode of TMITHC.  Soooo good. 


(Cassidy enjoying the cool, fall weather on Saturday)

On Sunday we mostly relaxed.  Took care of some chores.  Played with Raylan a lot.  We each went to the gym.  We once again took several walks.  I had band practice with Reed and Frank in the evening.  It was good to get together with them and make some music.  It had been a few weeks.
 


(Raylan and I go for a stroll)


So, overall it was a pretty quiet weekend.  Nice, though.
Hope everyone is having a good one.
Turkey Day is right around the corner!





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Update


Well, it's taken me a while to get around to writing an update post, but this week has just been really busy. It's still busy.  I'm gonna keep this post short.

On Friday night Ryan and Jamie came over for dinner.  We got burritos from Freebirds, and they got to visit with Raylan a bit.  It was good to catch up with them.  Things get so busy.

On Saturday Mom and Dad came by and picked up Raylan.  He spent the night with them on Saturday so we could go out.  Saturday night we went to Austin Karaoke to celebrate a bunch of birthdays from the ladies in Amy's office (I think Shelly, Kellie, and Emily all recently had birthdays).  We had a really good time!  The whole thing was a celebration of ridiculousness and cheesy music.  I think the good thing about karaoke is that it pretty much requires everyone involved not to take themselves very seriously.  And I haven't laughed that hard in a while.  Attendees included Emily, Joe, Kit, Shelly, Kellie, Tommy, Craig, Mary, and Steven.  Standout songs included Tommy's soulful rendition of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2U", and a couple of high octane rap songs performed by Kit and Joe, including "Jump Around" by House of Pain and another song which will not be named or described on Steanso's family-friendly blog (hint- it's from SNL and it deals with a young man's struggle to contain his excitement).
(Straight outta... some very white, middle class suburb)









(the judges from The Voice had nothing on these ladies)
Divas.
(I thought I might have dreamt this in a nightmare until I went through
my pictures the following morning)
(It's only fun if you take it seriously, right?)
(Kit and Steanso psyching themselves up to perform)

So that was pretty much Saturday.  On Sunday Raylan returned home (yea!), and we took care of some chores.  (grocery store, etc.)  One chore that did not get done?  Hanging up the mini blinds that I had ordered.  I had put the measurements in the computer backward, so we got short, fat mini blinds for Raylan's room instead of tall, thin ones.  Kind of a bummer, but the people at Blinds.com seem cool, and they're making me a new set for free.  Let's hope the next batch goes better.
Amy made some tasty pasta for dinner, and that was pretty much the night.

(someone put a hat on my head to celebrate a
holiday that I do not yet understand)

And that was the weekend.  It was really good to see Ryan and Jamie Friday and to have a chance to relax with friends on Saturday night at the karaoke place.
Hope everyone else is doing well.  How are the holidays coming up on us so fast?


Monday, November 09, 2015

Update




Hey!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!
We had a nice one.  
Friday night we just ate pizza and relaxed.  We watched an episode of The Americans.  We're both still really enjoying that show.
On Saturday morning I did some grocery shopping.  We took turns going to the gym.  We hung out with Raylan a lot.

(No, you're the best!)




(Amy tests out some new shushing glasses.)

On Saturday night our friends Shelly and Kit came over to watch the UT-Kansas game.  Kansas is not very good, so UT won pretty handily.  Raylan hung out for a little while at first, but then he went to sleep.  We had a really fun time visiting with Shelly and Kit.  Amy made queso, and we got other snacks and some cookies to go with it.  The game was okay, but mostly it was just good to see friends. 
(Waiting on Shelly and Kit to show up, but definitely ready for the game!)


(Tailgating with Mom)

(I have food on my face?  Really?  Where?)

On Sunday the weather was great.  It was cool and breezy and sunny.  I put a blanket out in the front yard, and played with Raylan on it for a while.  Sunday afternoon Tommy and Kelly stopped by for a visit.  We chatted with them for a while, and then we all walked to Central Market for lunch (well, Raylan rolled).  We ordered from the cafĂ© and then sat outside to eat.  It was great to see them.  Made for a very nice afternoon.
Sunday night we ate some Zuppa Toscana from a recipe that I found online.  It was pretty good.  Amy helped me make it, since I have a lot to learn in the cooking department (and many other departments as well).
And that was pretty much the weekend.  It was really nice.  We got some stuff done, and got to spend time with friends.  Friends are important for so many reasons, and it's been hard to keep in touch with people since we got a tiny little new boss in our house.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, friends really do make our lives richer, make us laugh, help us talk through our worries, and generally keep us grounded.  It was good to see Shelly, Kit, Tommy, and Kelly.  Thanks to them all for coming by to spend time with us.

(Walk?  Treat?  Whaddya got?)
And that was the weekend!  Have a good week!